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230                            LIFE OF
the splendidly-coloured rainbows which were formed
and vanished again in varying succession. The water
during the long rainy season, has washed earth on to
the bare rocks which project., and on which now vari-
ous plants, especially silver-leaved mimosa and tiro-
sera grow. In the distance the eye rests on the long
mountain chain Cunarami, which terminates suddenly
in a blunt cone shining with a red light in the setting
It surprised Humboldt that the noise of the cur-
rent was three times stronger in the night than by
day3 a feature, by the way,, peculiar to all European
waterfalls. But in a desert, where the quietness of
day is never interrupted, and is equal to that of night,
another reason than this contrast must be discovered^
and Humboldt believes that the warm air of the day
does not conduct the waves of sound so well as the
nocturnal cold air, on account of the unequal elas-
Humboldtj and his friend Bonpland, ventured to
pass the last half of the waterfall of Atures, also,,
with the laden boat. The two bold travellers first
landed several times on the rocks which connect the
single islands in the current-like dykes; sometimes
the waves dashed over these dykes, sometimes they
fell with a dull sound into their basin, and found an
outlet through subterranean canals, while the golden
rock hen nestled on the*dry rocks. The two travellers
crept into one of these caves3 lying under the rocky
dykes; its damp walls were covered with confervas
and luminous bissuth, and over their heads the torrent
rushed with a fearful noise. As the Indians had left
them in the middle of the waterfall to circumnavigate
a small island in their boat3 and were to take them
tip again at the lower point of the island, they were
obliged to spend an hour and a half on this rock in
a dreadful storm. The night had already commenced
to^ set in, and they in vain sought shelter from the
raia under the cleft granite. The little monkeys,
wfaiefa. they had carried on their wanderings for